DEAR HARRIETTE: My entire family has lived in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for generations. We all live within two hours of each other, and we see each other all the time. I have been exploring blogs and social media more and more, and I think that Seattle may be the city for me. I love the West Coast, the lifestyle and the natural beauty found all around, but I hate how guilty I'd feel if I pursued this dream. I plan on visiting Seattle very soon. If I do end up moving, how can I cope with my fear of missing out on my family events? I've never even missed a birthday. -- Hits Close to Home, Jersey City, New Jersey
DEAR HITS CLOSE TO HOME: You are right to be concerned about your next steps. Longing for the West Coast is real and understandable. Seattle is a beautiful, welcoming city that offers a lifestyle and access to nature far different from your East Coast way of living. Clearly, there is value in that, which may be enough to point you in that direction.
What you have to decide is if you will be able to reduce the amount of time that you physically see your family over the course of a given year. The work that you secure and what your resources look like will determine whether you can afford to go home more than a few times a year. You will not be able to see your family as often as you do now.
But thanks to social media and the internet, you absolutely can stay in close touch with your relatives. I have a sister who lives in Los Angeles, and my mother lives in Pikesville, Maryland. They speak every single day and have for all of the years that my sister has been gone. Even though they see each other rarely, they have a very close bond. Can you manage that? Or can you handle it for a few years? It might be that you go West for a while and then head back home.